MBONE: Multicasting Tomorrow's Internet


The notion of interactivity is important, and it brings up another aspect of multimedia that doesn't get mentioned all that often -- live multimedia. Even the fastest, prettiest, and most technologically advanced computer games and simulations take place in fabricated time, and their multimedia is packaged and programmed to take place at specific times and intervals. But the real world happens in real time, with interactions occurring constantly and things changing and adapting by the second. What about those transactions? How can they happen over a series of linked computers? How can they happen globally, over the Internet, which was designed from the beginning as an information-sharing resource, not a live communication technology? Here, too, the MBONE comes into play.

The wonders of Mosaic were first available only to users who had powerful workstations, but the Web was quickly embraced by the legions of "regular users" (dialing in from home, school, and the office) using their "regular computers" (relatively affordable PCs and Macs). Likewise, folks today who have powerful computer workstations and bandwidth to burn (say, a 384 Kbps or more at their disposal) are using the hottest multimedia tools -- programs that allow such marvels as real-time videoconferencing, collaboration using shared virtual "whiteboards," and media-on-demand servers.

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